Burbank widow gets over $100K for late husband`s unused time off - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Burbank widow gets over $100K for late husband`s unused time off

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

For most people in the workplace, sick time and vacation time is considered "use it or lose it," which means you can't carry it over from year to year. But, that wasn't the case at a tiny southwest suburban government agency which recently cut a six figure check to an employee who had just died.

Jeff Wells had worked at the South Stickney Sanitary District for nearly 40 years, starting as a laborer and eventually becoming superintendent of the agency that supplies water to about 10,000 homes in Burbank.

In February, Wells died after battling health issues and just days later, the district began depositing huge sums of money into his bank account.

The reason? The district had a policy allowing employees to carry over their unused sick time and vacation time from year to year with no limits. By the time Wells died, he had accumulated 480 hours of unused vacation and 1,262 hours of unused sick time--almost a full year's pay.

Even though many of the hours were banked decades ago, the time was paid out at nearly 63 bucks an hour--Wells' salary when he died. That means taxpayers paid Wells a total of $109,711 dollars for vacation and sick time after his death.

Burbank residents paying their water bills were stunned on Tuesday when we showed them the numbers.

"I work hard for what money I make. You work hard for your money. They work hard for their money. But the golden parachutes gotta stop," Burbank resident Len Pyzik says.

"This happens nowhere else in the private sector and it doesn't happen in a lot of government," John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute explains. "It seems to happen a lot in places like Illinois."

Taxpayer watchdog John Tillman says these types of deals tend to be found in the nooks and crannies of Illinois' 7,000 units of local government--more than any other state--where almost nobody's paying attention.

Last week, the South Stickney Sanitary Board responded by changing its policy requiring employees to "use it or lose it" when it comes to vacation and sick time.

"They're changing the policy only once you put a spotlight on it, and I think that's the outrage people should be paying attention to," Tillman adds.

District leaders wouldn't go on camera, but told FOX 32 they, too, were surprised at the size of the payout which is why they changed the policy.

Wells' widow says she had no idea she'd be getting all that money for unused sick and vacation time, but says her late husband worked hard for many years and was just following the rules.

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